This guest post is written by Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies.  She helps sellers crack into accounts, speed up their sales cycle and win more business.

eraser to fix mistakes

Let's face it. As business professionals, we know we need to "sell", but we don't love doing it. With images of self-serving salespeople dancing in our minds, we vow to never stoop as low as those tacky telemarketers as we prospect for new customers.

Instead, we'll be paragons of professionalism. If we reach a prospect's voicemail, we'll leave a message, perhaps one like this:

Eric. This is Pat Webster calling. I'm with Blasé Strategies, a leading marketing firm in the Minneapolis area. We offer a wide range of services, including branding, collateral development, as well as packaging and web design- one-stop shopping for all your marketing needs.

I'd love to set up a time to find out about your needs and tell you a bit about how we might help your company. Please give me a call at your earliest convenience. My number is 123-456-7890. I look forward to meeting you. Have a great day!

As we hang up the phone, we pride ourselves on how gracious we were. Not one bit pushy either. In short, perfect.

Well, guess what?!

When your prospects hear that "nice" message, the first thing that pops into their heads is, "Another self-serving salesperson!" Then they hit the delete button as fast as they can. It happens with email too.

Or if you actually get a person on the phone, they'll brush you off right away by saying, "We're happy with our present vendor" or "We're not interested."

Why is this happening? It's simple. Your non-salesy message is "salesy." You may not think it is, but if you got dozens of near-identical messages each day from salespeople, you'd change your mind in a hurry.

In short, you have violated one of the 7 Paradoxical Sales Principles.

#1: To win more sales, stop selling.

When you talk about your own company, you're selling - even if you do it nicely. You'll really cross the line if you use any verbiage like one-stop shopping, industry leader, user-friendly, scalable, best-in-class, robust, or innovative.

In fact, if you say even one nice word about your company, you're seen as a typical salesperson - despite all your best efforts not to  be. So stop talking about yourself.

A Fresh Perspective

Focus on your customer instead. That's the antidote to "selling." In your next call on a prospect, think about how you can quickly:

  • Demonstrate your knowledge of what's happening in their firm or industry. 
  • Align your message with their issues, goals, objectives and concerns. 
  • Bring them ideas, insights and information about highly relevant topics.
  • Sound like a colleague who's been thinking about their business challenges.

That's what it takes to capture your prospect's attention today. Your "nice" spiel doesn't work anymore. It just gets you d-e-l-e-t-e-d.

Try this instead.

Eric. Pat Webster from Blasé Strategies. 123-456-7890. I just spent an hour analyzing your website. Based on what I see, I suspect your shopping cart abandon rate may be higher than it should. One of our recent customers had the same problem.

We cut their abandoned carts by 16% in just one month, resulting in a 8.4% lift in sales. Let's set up a time to talk. Again, my number is 123-456-7890.

See the difference. It's palpable. You're a business peer. A real professional. A person who brings substantial value. Someone worth meeting.

One More Thing
Click here to download the free eBook7 Paradoxical Sales Principles.

Photo credit: Steven Brisson

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Originally published Feb 2, 2010 8:02:00 AM, updated July 28 2017